No Apologizing

Christian Apologetic, and Social Commentary in a world gone mad

Tag Archives: Gospel

It’s time to rethink missions


The future missions field

It is time to change the language associated with missions.

When you hear the word “missions” what do you think? Do you think of unusual people who go off to wild parts of the world to spread the gospel? Do you think of organizations who collect water and food to send to area’s of the world in need? If you answered yes to these questions, go ahead and nod your head in acknowledgment, and know that you are not alone. In fact, when I hear the word “missionary” I think of a gutsy family moving to Saudi Arabia, or some dangerous part of the world to bring those people real hope through the gospel.

What would cause this?

While I am sure there are many reasons that the average person believes that this is all missions is, the church should be concerned that this is the perception of missions work. Pastors and various ministries are now working diligently to promote the idea of taking the gospel to work, and are having a hard time gaining any traction. The next couple of posts will focus on the concept of marketplace missions and hopefully will begin to present some of the challenges that the church has with it, and why it is crucial.

The church organization does not align to the language of the church.

Pastors have done an increasingly excellent job at preaching to the idea of marketplace missions. This idea of taking the gospel to work has been gaining momentum, but the organizational support for this has been lagging. In fact, very few churches have the organizational structure to support a dedicated effort to the most common missions field in the United States and Europe, the workplace. For those of you in ministry, imagine being asked to build a building, but not being given any money or architectural plans to make it. Now, can you imagine our frustration.

To a trained eye in business, this is plain to see. You can see it in mission conferences where the sole focus is on oversea’s missions. You can see it in missions meetings where the focus only appears to be for those who are willing to travel to exotic locations. The call that pastors continue to make to 75% to 80% of those who are, or have the potential of being marketplace missionaries, are excluded. How can these working professionals be expected to view themselves as missionaries in their “Jerusalem” when the church they attend only promotes missionary work in the context of leaving Jerusalem? If church language encourages missionary work as being exclusive to traveling somewhere, how can those that choose marketplace missions be expected to see their pivotal role in the Kingdom as being missional?

How can this be fixed?

The book on marketplace missions is still being written. No seriously, I’m about halfway through it at this point. Because the marketplace missions concept is in its infancy, there is no proven method, no simple answer, and no marketplace missionary guide for dummies. What I can present is an idea based on business principles that have been written about and executed by people like Steve Jobs and Jack Welsh. It’s called aligning the organization to support the mission.

Consider this, if part of the mission of the church is missions, then ALL of the missions must be supported by the organization. This support would include the concept of marketplace missions work. It must be promoted and supported. Money must be allocated to it, and educational resources dedicated to it. In fact, I would argue that since 75% to 80% of a church congregation has the potential of being a marketplace missionary, that 75% to 80% of your missions budget should be solely dedicated to this effort.

Also, any missions conference must make room for, and give prominence to based on its potential, marketplace missions. When you get a chance, google and look at any missions conference you can find. Do you see anything associated with marketplace missions? No? I didn’t either.

When you walk through your church, there is no doubt that you see the posters, signs, and cards to support overseas missions. Take the time to count the number of posters, educational offerings, missions meetings, etc. for marketplace missions. Can’t find them? I couldn’t either.

The point of this isn’t to shame your local church or condemn them for the way they are approaching missions. But, if the church is genuinely looking for a paradigm shift in missions and evangelism, this is it. And it all starts with aligning the organization to support all missions, foreign and domestic.

Why is this important?

Can you imagine what a missions effort would look like if the organizational support arm of the church swung around to help business professionals by any means necessary in taking the gospel to work? Think of the relationships that have been built by the Christian professional through years of working in the same company. What a missionary would have to train for and work at for years, the business professional has already accomplished. Think about the number of cultures wrapped up in one master culture of a company where a Christian works. What would take a missionary years to master, has already been learned by the Christian business professional.

In other words, the church has thousands, maybe millions, of marketplace missionaries, who have excellent relationships and are embedded in the cultures of multiple people groups at work. The unsaved in the business world is the most significant field to harvest, and the workers are standing in the barn waiting for leadership to take them into the field.

In the next post, I will review why marketplace missions is a natural extension for most of the congregation of a church.

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Are Christians Sociopaths?


Are Christians, particularly Christians in America, sociopathic?

What started as an off the cuff remark I made during a recent sermon at my Church (Legacy Church, in Kansas City, MO) has begun to legitimately haunt me (you can hear the sermon here)…

Christian… Sociopath… These are two words that on the surface seem completely incompatible.  Acts 11:26 tells us that the term “Christian” was first used of disciples in the Antioch church.  This was initially used as an insult in that people were saying they were “little Christs”.  In other words, they were just like Jesus, who because of His great love for people, voluntarily died to pay for the sins of the world. On the other hand – the dictionary defines sociopath as “a person with a psychopathic personality whose behavior is antisocial, often criminal, and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.” Another says that “Sociopaths are interested only in their personal needs and desires, without concern for the effects of their behavior on others.”

How can someone who is living a life that is reminiscent of a man whose critics admit was at least a good person and moral teacher exhibit behavior or attitudes that are patently selfish and apathetic to others? However, in spite of the apparent contradiction, I think if we are truly honest with ourselves, the answer is closer to “yes” than any of us who call ourselves a Christian would like to admit… And it tears me up inside… Let me allow this clip from Atheist Magician and Comedian Penn Jillette to begin to explain what I mean:

“How much do you have to hate someone to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?” There is the rub… Way too many “Christians” fall in a daily routine and are comfortable to coast through life without a broken heart for their friends and family who, if what we believe is really true, are destined for an eternity without God… Well… to be honest that is the essence of selfishly living life “without concern for the effects of their behavior [or lack thereof] on others”, isn’t it???

We certainly shouldn’t be comfortable with it… But sadly I think that may just be the problem… our comfort.  Because we are relatively comfortable, especially in comparison to most of the rest of the world, we just get into auto pilot and unintentionally slip into apathy.  It’s not a conscious thing, but it occurs anyway… and it’s tragic.

Penn said “There comes a point where I tackle you… and this is more important than that.” Because people’s eternities are so important, our “social conscience” should remind us that we have a “moral responsibility” to love those around us enough to take the risk of offending them or losing a friendship to in a sense “tackle” them by sharing the truth about Jesus

Let’s pray to God for forgiveness for our sociopathic tendencies and begin to live a life that actually reflects our name-sake, Jesus… and refuse to scoot through life uncaring and unaffected by the many people we know who do not yet have a relationship with Him.

Host a Bible Study Group….GO TO JAIL!


That guy must be hosting a small group

That guy must be hosting a small group…

I just stumbled across this story today.  I have to say I am just sitting here shaking my head.  Here is the simple breakdown:

–          Family hosts small group at home on a regular basis of about 15 to 20 people.

–          City deems this to be a church numerous fire hazards due to meeting at home.

–          Family builds 2000 sqft building for meetings.

–          City raids the building and home, arrests the father.

–          Father will go to jail for about 60 days.

 

Here is a link to the story:  http://radio.foxnews.com/toddstarnes/top-stories/man-facing-jail-for-hosting-home-bible-study.html

So I read this story and see two things.

  1. I am mildly upset at the perception of silly business on behalf of the pastor that was arrested.  This appears to be a big gotcha and perhaps a thumbing of the nose to the city of Phoenix by the associate pastor.  The city does have city ordinances that must be followed on the construction of the new buildings, and he clearly did not follow them.  That being said…
  2. The city has no reason/defense against what they have done.  My family and I host small groups fairly regularly.  We have on any given small group night as many as 18 men, women and children in my tiny abode.  We could be affected by this.  In order for the City of Phoenix to demonstrate that the application of the law is not specific to small groups (Christians in other words) they would have to target groups of guys who get together to watch Monday Night Football on every Monday night at someone house.  How about any regular get together with families?

I fully believe that the officials involved with this from the city of Phoenix are targeting this man and his family because he is a “religious zealot” (this is what atheist’s and liberals like to call committed Christians).  The one that really gets me is having the police called on them, BY THE FIRE DEPARTMENT, while eating a meal in the back yard with their friends.  This is a clear indication of some sort of persecution.  However, this pastor should have gone out of his way to either continue to have the meeting in his home, backyard or following the city code with the construction of the new building.

Thoughts?

30 minutes that could change your life…


A friend at my church told me about this video, and told me I needed to watch it. I did.  Wow!  I am not going to tell you directly what it is about, but I will tell you that you need to view this video.  It is a little over 33 minutes long, but it is 30 minutes that could change your life…

Mourning the Death of Osama Bin Laden…


If you’ve read this blog at all you know that we are not fans of any religion or worldview that sets itself up against the God of the Bible. Nor do we back down from honest and straightforward debate with proponents of those worldviews.  I’m also not a fan of heinous acts perpetrated against our great nation and her people.  So it will probably surprise you that I have been grieved over the last few days by the death of Osama Bin Laden and I have been doubly heart-broken over the reaction the majority of our nation has had over this news.  Before you even think it, let me say that doesn’t make me a Muslim sympathizer and it makes me no less patriotic.

Look, let me explain:  I’m not saying that justice wasn’t served… because it was.  Nor am I claiming that he didn’t bring it upon himself… because he did.  And I’m definitely not saying that he shouldn’t have been stopped and dealt with… because he absolutely 100% needed to be.

What’s got my heart hurting is the fact that there is one more soul whose fate is sealed to be eternally separated from the loving God of this universe in a horrible place called Hell and people are rejoicing over it.  Regardless of what people may claim or wish or pretend, or what Rob Bell may imply, Hell is very real… it is very bad… and it is eternal.  So much so, I’d not wish it on my worst enemy – Even Osama Bin Laden… Even Hitler… Even the people who have directly, personally and deeply wounded me (both intentionally and unintentionally).

Again, please don’t misunderstand me here…  I am NOT a fan of Bin Laden… I detest and denounce what he has done… He was evil to the core and I realize the chances of him ever accepting Christ were slim to none… Well, given recent events, Slim is permanently out of town, so the chances are obviously zero now. But we have condemned Osama for his blatant disregard for the value on human life, but yet, by rejoicing his death aren’t we doing the same?

Some of you may call me a hypocrite because I am a proponent of capital punishment… And I definitely believe that Bin Laden should have been put to death (and unlike Mendenhall I do believe we have all the info we need to condemn Bin Laden’s actions and he would have undoubtedly been convicted had he made it to court)…. What I’m saying is that we need not rejoice over it.  There are often things that NEED to be done, but which should give us no pleasure in the doing of them… Burying the dead, disciplining your children, complicated and painful (but life-saving) surgery, chemo-therapy, etc. are all examples of things that have to be done that no sane person should rejoice over.  In fact, that last one may be the best example… Killing Bin Laden was chemo-therapy – it eliminated a cancer that needed to be dealt with, but is it cause for jubilant celebration? I submit to you no, it is not.

Consider this… 2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.”  That “everyone” includes people we’d rather not have existed… Hitler… Stalin… Bin Laden… child abusers… rapists… your ex… EVERYONE.  Further food for thought is Ezekiel 33:11 which says, “Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?’”

Does that mean everyone will believe and or that everyone will enter into Heaven? By no means, (God speaks about punishing the wicked in the Ezekiel verse – sorry Rob Bell, both God’s Love AND His Justice wins) but it does mean that we should value human life and desire, like God does that everyone come to know him… It means that we need to tell people about the good news of Jesus Christ… and it means we should grieve when people die without Him – even people as evil as Osama Bin Laden.  We need to love and pray for people as long as we and they are alive and let the Lord sort it out when we’re all dead (cf. Romans 12:19)… In fact Jesus Himself said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:43-45).

Getting to that place is hard… and it will require a revolution in thinking… but let me ask you this:  Can you bring yourself to care more about the Kingdom of God than the good ol’, US of A?  That’s where I believe God is leading me… How about you?

So yes, I grieve for Osama Bin Laden… as well as all who die without knowing Jesus. Do you?

TGIF?


Today was the day...

This is a post we wrote on Good Friday Last year… Thought you may enjoy reading it again and reflecting upon just exactly what Jesus did for you… If there is any significance in the shape of Laminin, this event is the reason why.  More Easter-themed posts will be up tomorrow and Sunday.

Thank God it’s Friday? Not for these guys… Not today.  This day held more anguish, pain, panic and despair than all the days from the beginning of time combined…  Today was so indescribably bad because it was such a stark contrast with the highs they had experienced over the last 3 ½ years – especially this last week – even earlier last evening had been intimate, festive, warm and safe!

Not now… Now He was gone and they were scattered – scurrying like roaches when the lights come on, because… HE… was… DEAD… And Hope was no more.

Let me explain by backing up a bit. For centuries their people had been waiting – waiting for a man sent from God who would make everything right… A man who would restore all things to the way they should be – one who would rebuild the bridge to God that we had broken so long ago… one who would bring Freedom to the captive… Hope to the desperate… and Love to all.

This waiting wasn’t just wishful thinking. Scriptures spoke about Him over and over and over… on every line of every page.

Now He was here! They were absolutely 100% sure of it! He was born into the right family, in the right town at the right time… He was there when they most needed Him and He was doing all the things Scripture said He would! They said He would be a prophet, and He boldly taught about God’s Kingdom and fearlessly spoke of the future. The prophets said He would be a healer, and they had seen Him give sight to the blind, restore strength to the cripple, open the ears of the deaf… even raise 3 people from the dead!

But He wasn’t just any prophet… and He wasn’t a typical physician, nor was He a magician. This one had a power and air of authority they could not explain.  For goodness sakes, evil spirits and even the elements obeyed His voice!

Earlier that week, as they entered the city for the festival, people flooded the winding road that lead down the hill through a garden full of olive trees. They screamed out His name! They just knew NOW was the time He would set the wheels in motion to take His rightful place – to become King! But they didn’t understand that on this day when families across the nation would choose their sacrificial lamb, HE, the Promised One, was presenting Himself as the only sacrifice that would be needed… EVER!

That night, they retired to an adjacent town to spend time with friends – It was an exciting day and a restful and refreshing evening. The next day as they made their way into the city He cursed a tree for having no fruit… this was just a precursor to the events later that day… Oh, how encouraged they were as they watched Him enter the religious center of the nation and clean house… He drove out the corrupt merchants who were using the people’s religious hopes as an excuse to turn an unfair profit… and then He healed the sick there… The people were amazed, grateful and sang out His praises, but the leaders were enraged… His followers could scarcely contain their joy – the revolution MUST be beginning!

After another wonderful evening with their gracious hosts, they returned to the city to find the cursed tree was dead – What power! What a King! That day, they spent quite a while with Him on a special mountain overlooking the metropolis. He spoke about the coming destruction of the city – Could it mean that He was planning on mounting a rebellion against their oppressors? Could it be now?! They could only assume they would play central roles in the coming new order… They knew it was coming because they were confident in His right to rule and His power and authority to make it happen! They also knew that they, His chosen few, would get the privilege to eat with Him at a very special occasion tomorrow!

They did share that meal with Him… but before that He washed their feet – to them, it was like being knighted – What an honor and pleasure to be so favored by this soon to be crowned King. During dinner He prayed for them and made them new promises of how God would see and relate to them. They were confident in Him and His promise, but there was an air of sorrow in His voice and a look of grief in His eyes.

After the meal, they went back to the olive grove where He had spoken of the city’s destruction the day before – this time they went to pray. Then, one of their own, one they had hardly noticed had left during supper, showed up with a troupe of men armed with weapons and torches. As their friend greeted Him with a kiss, the guards seized their Lord!

What could be happening?!?! Chaos and panic set in… One of His followers drew a sword and cut off a guard’s ear. But the Master demanded they stop, and He even healed the man – Why was He letting this happen? The group of soldiers moved to arrest them all, but everyone but Him ran… one only escaped by slipping out of his clothing!

They could not understand; their heads were spinning! Through the fog of adrenaline and fear each of them did their best to lay low while keeping tabs on what was happening to Him – He had to be okay… How could they go on without Him?

He was put through trials by several religious and political figures. A few of the trials were illegal… all of them were rigged – they were shams. None of the inquisitions showed a shred of evidence proving Him guilty of ANY wrong doing – Yet, through it all He was punished and tortured and beaten to the point one could no longer tell He was even human. Then, the people who earlier had cried out His name in triumph shouted for His execution!

They marched Him naked through the streets forcing Him to carry His own instrument of death. But, as they were slowly killing Him, He begged God to pardon them. As He breathed His last, the sky darkened, the earth shook, the temple was damaged and the hearts of His followers melted and their hopes evaporated into mist… Sorrow reigned.

The next day’s headlines would not sing to the world the news they had hoped: A NEW REIGN AND RENEWED FREEDOM. Instead, they would be replaced by an obituary:

At the age of 33. Jesus Christ, of Nazareth, King of the Jews, has passed. He died outside Jerusalem on Golgotha by crucifixion – Executed by the Romans at the request of the Sanhedrin for treason against Caesar and spreading subversion throughout the land. Death was confirmed by spear thrust through the heart. He was born in Bethlehem during the reign of Herod the Great. He spent His early life as a carpenter, but gained fame in recent years as an itinerant rabbi. The body is being held in the tomb of a friend, under Roman guard. Funeral services and body preparation are scheduled for after the Sabbath. He leaves behind a grieving mother, Mary; a Father, God… and many followers whose dreams were shattered, whose expectations were crushed and whose optimism was gone…

All because He… was… DEAD…

Easter is a Myth?


Easter is fast approaching.  So now we get the fine pleasure of hearing a ton about a magical

Hollywood's real version of what easter is ALL about!

 Easter bunny who runs around getting people fat(ter).  Movies like “Hop” are coming out but strangely there are no movies about the resurrection of Christ coming out this Easter.  So, I thought it would be good to tackle the resurrection from a historical perspective.

To sum up where we are thus far…

  1. We can prove that the time span of the writings of the gospels and the rest of the New Testament took place within an acceptable time frame from the crucifixion.
  2. We can also demonstrate that the manuscript evidence for the New Testament is far superior and in fact the most documented event in history.

This post is going to take a look at the most critical event in the New Testament, the resurrection of Jesus Christ. (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:14-19)

The resurrection is the lynch pin of the Christian faith.  Without it, there is no arisen God, and thus Jesus was not who he said he was.  So the question then becomes, are the events depicted in the Gospel historically accurate?

Here are the facts that are relatively agreed to by most New Testament Scholars

  1. On the Sunday morning after the crucifixion the tomb was found empty by a group of his women followers.
  2. On multiple occasions many people and groups interacted with a live  Jesus after his death.
  3. The original disciples suddenly and sincerely changed directions and passionately argued for a resurrected Christ.

Those that dispute the above three facts are on the fringe.  Many New Testament skeptics will accept the above facts.  The support for this evidence is the documents within the New Testament. 

Quick Note….Most atheists immediately dismiss the use of the New Testament because it is part of the Bible.  I would argue against this.  You cannot, at least from a true scholarly perspective, dismiss the documents of the New Testament.  While it is presented in a single book, the New Testament must be viewed as a collection of documents which were recorded by several different men.  Thus the New Testament provides an opportunity for skeptics to corroborate evidence from one author to another.  Again, historical evidence shows that the New Testament was written within an acceptable amount of time from the crucifixion.  The manuscript evidence is 99% accurate.  So we can say with comfort, what we read in the New Testament, was in fact written within 20-60 years of the crucifixion.  Let’s look at each fact.

1.       The Empty tomb

There are multiple sources besides Mark that testify to the empty tomb.  Matthew and John are independent sources about the empty tomb.  It is also mentioned in the sermons in Acts (2:29; 13:36) and implied by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:4.  These are independent sources attesting to the fact of an empty tomb. 

Another thing to consider is the fact that women discovered the tomb first.  This is most definitely note worthy for one simple fact: women were not highly regarded in Jewish society.  Josephus says that women weren’t even permitted to serve as witnesses in a Jewish court of law! If the empty tomb was legend and not fact, the writers of this legend  most certainly would have put men at the tomb for the discovery, rather than women.  The fact that it is women who discover the tomb empty can only mean one thing…they were in fact the chief witnesses to this event. 

2.       On multiple occasions many people and groups interacted with a live  Jesus after his death.

The list of eyewitnesses to have Jesus after his death is numerous.  Paul provides a list of those who have seen him in 1 Corinthians 15:5-8.  In this list Paul includes the name of Peter, the Twelve, and James.  These are people that Paul personally knew.  These appearances cannot be dismissed as mere legends.

Additionally, narratives of the appearances are multiple and independently attested to.  Consider for example this, the appearance to Peter is attested by Luke and Paul; the appearance to the Twelve is attested by Luke, John and Paul; and the appearance to the women is attested by Matthew and John.  The testimony of the appearances is so broad that it cannot be reasonably argued that the earliest disciples did have such experience.

3.      The original disciples suddenly and sincerely changed directions and passionately argued for a resurrected Christ.

This is a topic we have covered before by asking you “Would you die for a lie?”

Here is the reality of the situation for the disciples.

  1. Their leader was dead.  Messianic expectations of their Messiah were one of the Messiah defeating Israel’s enemies not being shamefully executed as a criminal.
  2. The Jewish belief system did not have/did not allow for anyone being arisen from the dead before the general resurrection of the dead at the end of the world.

Despite these two realities the original disciples came to believe so strongly that Jesus had arisen from the grave and began preaching it throughout the world.  The simple fact here is that these Jewish men went about the world preaching something that ultimately was un-Jewish and outlandish according to their own faith.  Acts 5:33-39 illustrates these points of contention. 

So now the question becomes…what is the best explanation of these facts?

First some common attempts to explain the above facts:

  1. The body was stolen.

This would explain the empty tomb, but not the appearances, and most definitely not the change of the disciples, even if they stole the body.

  1. The appearances were hallucinations.

This is highly improbable (if not absolutely impossible) considering that the ENTIRE list provided by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:5-8 would have had to have the same hallucination.  That is 500+ people all having a hallucination of Jesus returning from the dead.

The only plausible and absolute explanation of the three facts mentioned above is that Jesus in fact rose from the dead.  No other event or explanation could cover all three facts.

We hope we have answered some of your questions regarding the historicity of Jesus and His resurrection… If you have further objections you would like us to answer, please let us know… If not, would you consider trusting in Him today?

U2’s Bono interview about Christ


Okay….so I am always on the lookout for how celebrities describe their faith.  I find it interesting.  9 times out of 10 they end up creating a God that does not exist in the Bible.  Then along comes this excerpt from a book where Bono from U2 is being interviewed about his faith.  Actually the interview is from September 2010…but never the less it is an incredible read.  The following excerpt is from the poached egg and can be found at this link.

Christians in a rock band?

 

Bono: My understanding of the Scriptures has been made simple by the person of Christ. Christ teaches that God is love. What does that mean? What it means for me: a study of the life of Christ. Love here describes itself as a child born in straw poverty, the most vulnerable situation of all, without honor. I don’t let my religious world get too complicated. I just kind of go: Well, I think I know what God is. God is love, and as much as I respond [sighs] in allowing myself to be transformed by that love and acting in that love, that’s my religion. Where things get complicated for me, is when I try to live this love. Now that’s not so easy.

Assayas: What about the God of the Old Testament? He wasn’t so “peace and love”?

Bono: There’s nothing hippie about my picture of Christ. The Gospels paint a picture of a very demanding, sometimes divisive love, but love it is. I accept the Old Testament as more of an action movie: blood, car chases, evacuations, a lot of special effects, seas dividing, mass murder, adultery. The children of God are running amok, wayward. Maybe that’s why they’re so relatable. But the way we would see it, those of us who are trying to figure out our Christian conundrum, is that the God of the Old Testament is like the journey from stern father to friend. When you’re a child, you need clear directions and some strict rules. But with Christ, we have access in a one-to-one relationship, for, as in the Old Testament, it was more one of worship and awe, a vertical relationship. The New Testament, on the other hand, we look across at a Jesus who looks familiar, horizontal. The combination is what makes the Cross.

Assayas: Speaking of bloody action movies, we were talking about South and Central America last time. The Jesuit priests arrived there with the gospel in one hand and a rifle in the other.

Bono: I know, I know. Religion can be the enemy of God. It’s often what happens when God, like Elvis, has left the building. [laughs] A list of instructions where there was once conviction; dogma where once people just did it; a congregation led by a man where once they were led by the Holy Spirit. Discipline replacing discipleship. Why are you chuckling?

Assayas: I was wondering if you said all of that to the Pope the day you met him.

Bono: Let’s not get too hard on the Holy Roman Church here. The Church has its problems, but the older I get, the more comfort I find there. The physical experience of being in a crowd of largely humble people, heads bowed, murmuring prayers, stories told in stained-glass windows

Assayas: So you won’t be critical.

Bono: No, I can be critical, especially on the topic of contraception. But when I meet someone like Sister Benedicta and see her work with AIDS orphans in Addis Ababa, or Sister Ann doing the same in Malawi, or Father Jack Fenukan and his group Concern all over Africa, when I meet priests and nuns tending to the sick and the poor and giving up much easier lives to do so, I surrender a little easier.

Assayas: But you met the man himself. Was it a great experience?

Bono: [W]e all knew why we were there. The Pontiff was about to make an important statement about the inhumanity and injustice of poor countries spending so much of their national income paying back old loans to rich countries. Serious business. He was fighting hard against his Parkinson’s. It was clearly an act of will for him to be there. I was oddly moved by his humility, and then by the incredible speech he made, even if it was in whispers. During the preamble, he seemed to be staring at me. I wondered. Was it the fact that I was wearing my blue fly-shades? So I took them off in case I was causing some offense. When I was introduced to him, he was still staring at them. He kept looking at them in my hand, so I offered them to him as a gift in return for the rosary he had just given me.

Assayas: Didn’t he put them on?

Bono: Not only did he put them on, he smiled the wickedest grin you could ever imagine. He was a comedian. His sense of humor was completely intact. Flashbulbs popped, and I thought: “Wow! The Drop the Debt campaign will have the Pope in my glasses on the front page of every newspaper.”

Assayas: I don’t remember seeing that photograph anywhere, though.

Bono: Nor did we. It seems his courtiers did not have the same sense of humor. Fair enough. I guess they could see the T-shirts.

Later in the conversation:
Assayas: I think I am beginning to understand religion because I have started acting and thinking like a father. What do you make of that?

Bono: Yes, I think that’s normal. It’s a mind-blowing concept that the God who created the universe might be looking for company, a real relationship with people, but the thing that keeps me on my knees is the difference between Grace and Karma.

Assayas: I haven’t heard you talk about that.

Bono: I really believe we’ve moved out of the realm of Karma into one of Grace.

Assayas: Well, that doesn’t make it clearer for me.

Bono: You see, at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics; in physical laws every action is met by an equal or an opposite one. It’s clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the universe. I’m absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that “as you reap, so you will sow” stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff.

Assayas: I’d be interested to hear that.

Bono: That’s between me and God. But I’d be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge. I’d be in deep s—. It doesn’t excuse my mistakes, but I’m holding out for Grace. I’m holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don’t have to depend on my own religiosity.

Assayas: The Son of God who takes away the sins of the world. I wish I could believe in that.

Bono: But I love the idea of the Sacrificial Lamb. I love the idea that God says: Look, you cretins, there are certain results to the way we are, to selfishness, and there’s a mortality as part of your very sinful nature, and, let’s face it, you’re not living a very good life, are you? There are consequences to actions. The point of the death of Christ is that Christ took on the sins of the world, so that what we put out did not come back to us, and that our sinful nature does not reap the obvious death. That’s the point. It should keep us humbled . It’s not our own good works that get us through the gates of heaven.

Assayas: That’s a great idea, no denying it. Such great hope is wonderful, even though it’s close to lunacy, in my view. Christ has his rank among the world’s great thinkers. But Son of God, isn’t that farfetched?

Bono: No, it’s not farfetched to me. Look, the secular response to the Christ story always goes like this: he was a great prophet, obviously a very interesting guy, had a lot to say along the lines of other great prophets, be they Elijah, Muhammad, Buddha, or Confucius. But actually Christ doesn’t allow you that. He doesn’t let you off that hook. Christ says: No. I’m not saying I’m a teacher, don’t call me teacher. I’m not saying I’m a prophet. I’m saying: “I’m the Messiah.” I’m saying: “I am God incarnate.” And people say: No, no, please, just be a prophet. A prophet, we can take. You’re a bit eccentric. We’ve had John the Baptist eating locusts and wild honey, we can handle that. But don’t mention the “M” word! Because, you know, we’re gonna have to crucify you. And he goes: No, no. I know you’re expecting me to come back with an army, and set you free from these creeps, but actually I am the Messiah. At this point, everyone starts staring at their shoes, and says: Oh, my God, he’s gonna keep saying this. So what you’re left with is: either Christ was who He said He was the Messiah or a complete nutcase. I mean, we’re talking nutcase on the level of Charles Manson. This man was like some of the people we’ve been talking about earlier. This man was strapping himself to a bomb, and had “King of the Jews” on his head, and, as they were putting him up on the Cross, was going: OK, martyrdom, here we go. Bring on the pain! I can take it. I’m not joking here. The idea that the entire course of civilization for over half of the globe could have its fate changed and turned upside-down by a nutcase, for me, that’s farfetched

Bono later says it all comes down to how we regard Jesus:

Bono: If only we could be a bit more like Him, the world would be transformed. When I look at the Cross of Christ, what I see up there is all my s— and everybody else’s. So I ask myself a question a lot of people have asked: Who is this man? And was He who He said He was, or was He just a religious nut? And there it is, and that’s the question. And no one can talk you into it or out of it.

First Amendment vs. Faith?


The newly elected Governor of Alabama, Robert Bentley, is coming under fire for some comments he made regarding his faith in the former church of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. For context here’s what he said:

”I was elected as a Republican candidate. But once I became governor … I became theYou're not my brother.... governor of all the people. I intend to live up to that. I am color blind… There may be some people here today who do not have living within them the Holy Spirit, but if you have been adopted in God’s family like I have, and like you have if you’re a Christian and if you’re saved, and the Holy Spirit lives within you just like the Holy Spirit lives within me, then you know what that makes? It makes you and me brothers. And it makes you and me brother and sister.  Now I will have to say that, if we don’t have the same daddy, we’re not brothers and sisters. So anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, I’m telling you, you’re not my brother and you’re not my sister, and I want to be your brother.”

People are claiming that this alienates non-Christians… maybe it does…  After all, the scripture says, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18) and Galatians 5 calls the cross offensive… Jesus said that because the world hated Him they certainly would hate those who follow Him…

In Gov. Bentley’s defense, he made these comments in a church! And the comments themselves were very inclusive and loving. You may say they seem very much the opposite, but consider this: Noted atheist Penn Gillette pointed out in his video blog that he doesn’t respect Christians who will not try to evangelize… Because if they truly believe that there is a Hell why would they not want to spare someone from it… He himself said that if he urged someone to get out of the way of a bus they didn’t believe was bearing down on them there would come a time when he’d just push them out of the way… and if Heaven and Hell are real, the Christian message is much more important… (Click Here for this Vlog entry).

I respect Gov. Bentley for telling the truth and for saying it in an open, honest, and loving way (“I want to be your brother”).  As we’ve said before in this blog, we believe that your faith must permeate your whole life – Jesus doesn’t call us to compartmentalize our existence, He’s to be the center and purpose of everything. Bravo to Robert Bentley for following through with this regardless of the firestorm it started!

Will this affect his ability to govern well? Absolutely! However, I actually have much more confidence that he will be able to govern as he should now that he’s made these remarks than I would have had he not… Why? Because this same Jesus he boldly proclaimed in this speech as well as in his inaugural speech died out of love for all people… A man patterning his life after Christ’s example and seeking to be lead by the Holy Spirit will certainly be a good leader. I believe that Gov. Bentley is seeking just that… Here’s some other things he said on Monday:

“I am the governor of all of Alabama — Democrat, Republican and independent, young and old, black and white, rich and poor. My job is to make all of our lives better together.”

“You have heard me make this promise: I will not accept a paycheck until we reach a level of defined full employment… I challenge every elected official to join me in pledging to be a true public servant — a servant leader — for the people of our state… Jesus showed his disciples by example, that in order to be a great leader, you must first be a servant. And he demonstrated this, with the lowly act of washing the disciples’ feet. As public officials, now is not the time to be self-serving. It’s not the time to remain silent, inactive or apathetic. Now is the time for us to come together, take on the challenges we face and make life better for the people of our state.”

“The challenges are great, but as Mordecai told Esther as she placed her life in jeopardy to save our Jewish brethren, how do we know that we have not been placed here today for a time such as this?”

I hope and pray that Bentley will keep this type of humility and focus on Christ… it will make him a better leader… I also hope and pray, as a church leader, I will do the same… Follow Christ’s example, exude servant-leadership, love and work for others without being self serving and be bold about the Gospel… Lord, help more leaders rise up to do the same.

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Jehovah’s Witness…what are you going to do?


Okay….raise your hand if you have ever had a Jehovah’s Witness come to your door. I have TWO Jehovah Witness church’s within a couple miles of my house. They are always coming by…never when I am home. I am resolved to minister to them the next time they come by and I am there. The Way of the Master did a great video on Jehovah’s witness’s, and what they believe. Think about this…When a Jehovah’s witness comes to your door…it is a opportunity to witness to them!

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